László Polgár (bass)

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László Polgár in rehearsal, 2003.

László Polgár (1 January 1947 – 19 September 2010)[1] was an Hungarian operatic bass, additionally he is a chess teacher and educational psychologist. Polgár is the father of the famous Polgár sisters: Zsuzsa (Susan), Zsófia (Sophia/Sofia), and Judit, whom he raised to be chess prodigies, with two of them becoming the best and second best women chess players in the world.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, he studied with Eva Kutrucz at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, 1967–72, and later privately with Hans Hotter and Yevgeny Nesterenko. He made his debut at the Hungarian State Opera in 1971, as Count Ceprano in Rigoletto. His other roles there included: Osmin, Sarastro, Leporello, Basilio, Gurnemanz, etc.

His international career took off in 1981, when he sang Rodolfo in La sonnambula at the Royal Opera House in London. He became a regular guest at the Vienna State Opera in 1983, at the Munich State Opera and the Opéra de Paris from 1985; also, he appeared in Hamburg State Opera, and at the festivals of Salzburg and Aix-en-Provence. From 1992 until 2008 he was a principal solo bass of the Zurich Opera House.[2]

Other notable roles of his included: Oroveso, Giorgio, Il Prefetto, Walter, Padre Guardiano, and Filippo. He is perhaps best known for his interpretation of the title role in Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle, which he sang several times with distinction, and also recorded with soprano Jessye Norman, conductor Pierre Boulez, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

He was also an outstanding oratorio and Lieder singer, and owed his international fame to his beautiful, silky voice, and his remarkable declamation and musicality. His art is quite well represented on compact disc, particularly in opera.

Polgár taught at the Hochschule für Musik in Winterthur, Switzerland, and also at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest.

He died in Zürich in 2010, at the age of 63.[3]


  • Grove Music Online, Peter Varnai & Alan Blyth, Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Bach-Cantatas, Aryeh Oron & Maria Langsch, August 2001.


  1. ^ Elhunyt Polgár László operaénekes. Híradó.hu, 2010. szeptember 19.
  2. ^ "Obituaries: László Polgár". Opera News 75 (6). December 2010. 
  3. ^ László Polgár

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